Positive Vibes Only, Nikola Vucevic's Big Shot, A Surprising Win on the Glass, and Other Bulls Bullets

Social Navigation

Positive Vibes Only, Nikola Vucevic’s Big Shot, A Surprising Win on the Glass, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

All-Star starters will be announced tonight live on TNT. 

DeMar DeRozan will be announced as an All-Star starter tonight on TNT.

•   Sometimes, I feel like I can harp on intangibles a little too much. As someone who has covered a handful of sporting events in person in the past, I fell in love with looking for the little moments. The way guys interact on the sideline or look at each other on the court (or don’t interact on the sideline or don’t look at each other on the court) can tell us a lot about a team dynamic. Sure, whatever actually happens in the box score and win column reign supreme, but intangibles can give us needed context, and I think this moment from last night speaks volumes.

•   A group that is riddled with injuries and clawing to stay near the top of the Eastern Conference, Chicago is anchored by three stars who look just as happy for one another as they do to get the win. In an NBA stuffed to the brim with drama and superstar tension, it’s hard to emphasize just how important and refreshing that is, especially for a Bulls team that has had a storm cloud stuck over its head the past four seasons.

•   I think a lot of the credit for these positive vibes has to go to DeMar DeRozan. The man has given more hugs this season than Barney has in his lifetime. The small gesture not only points to a happy All-Star, but it’s a sign of the leadership DeRozan brought with him. As good as LaVine has been this season, DeRozan has been the one to make headlines with buzzer-beater game-winners and All-Star votes. He’s had the spotlight on his head most, but he climbs to the rafters and points it toward his teammates as frequently as possible. When the guy who’s made the biggest plays of the season acts that way, there is no question it has a significant positive impact on the rest of the roster.

•   In the wise words of Stacey King: BANG BANG BANG, GIVE ME THE HOT SAUCE, VOOCH!

•   Nikola Vucevic has gotten his fair share of criticism this season – some earned, some less so. However, even in the midst of what has undoubtedly been a “down” year for the All-Star big man, he’s still repeatedly found a way to come up big for this team. The big man’s 17-made 3’s in the 4th quarter this season are the 3rd-most on the team (LaVine: 19, White: 18). If you don’t remember how important some of them were, let me remind you …

Oct. 28th: Makes it a one-score game against the Knicks with 41.0 to go
Oct. 30th: Gives the Bulls an 8-point cushion against the jazz with 1:26 to go
Nov. 8th: Extends the Bulls lead to double-digits against the Kets with 6:57 to go (sparked a 26-11 run for Bulls)
Dec. 2nd: Nails the shot to put the Bulls up 105-102 with 6:11 to go at MSG
Dec. 27th: Hits three buckets from downtown in the 4th quarter against the Hawks to stretch Bulls to a 130-118 win
Jan. 19th: Give the depleted Bulls a 9-point lead against the Cavs with 2:27 to go (proceeds to ice the game with another 3 at 49sec mark)

•   I think that list helps put into perspective just how special and important the big man is. He has easily had a harder time than LaVine and DeRozan with finding a consistent role and rhythm, but the Bulls don’t put together one of their best starts in nearly a decade without him.

•   I got to give the Bulls a ton of credit for their rebounding effort last night. Toronto came into the night with the NBA’s 11th-highest REB%, whereas the Bulls sats just 21st. We watched the Raptors’ clear size advantage give the Bulls’ offense fits in the second half, but the Bulls still managed to walk away with a 45-34 advantage on the glass (10-8 victory on offensive boards). Vucevic, LaVine, DeRozan, and Green all grabbed at least 6 rebounds in a communal effort. Let’s hope they can keep this up, especially in the absence of Lonzo Ball, the team’s second-leading rebounder.

•   Even with two-straight wins to show for, these games against OKC and Toronto demonstrated how much a non-Ball/Caruso Bulls team can struggle with ramped-up ball pressure. I can give the team a bit more leeway when it comes to last night’s game since the Raptors have some rare length, but this is still something head coach Billy Donovan will have to figure out how to clean up.

•   I hate that Lonzo had to get injured.

•   Does Justin Field want to sign a 10-day?

•   I don’t know if this video even does the dunk justice. LaVine’s power through OG Anunoby was TOUGH.

•   Very cool.


Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.